An emotional portrayal

Film screening

An emotional portrayal

The atmosphere was a bit melancholic with many poignant moments in between at the Alliance Francaise auditorium recently. Vijay Singh’s latest film, ‘Farewell My Indian Soldier’, a touching docu-fiction, struck an emotional chord with all the spectators who were present at the screening.

It was a moving portrayal of Indian soldiers who came to fight in France and Belgium during the First World War. The presence of these 1,50,000 soldiers in Europe is a virtually unknown fact of history. In this film, Vijay Singh recounts the story of Indian soldiers through the eyes of love and human affection.

During their furlough on French barns, some Indian soldiers and French women developed affection for each other and children were born. These Indo-French children became the victims of a taboo because of which most people avoided them. The film is inspired by the story of one such child. In the film, a young girl named Paloma Coquant, a descendant of an unknown Indian soldier and his French hostess, journeys across France, Belgium, England and India and weaves around it the fascinating story of the Indian soldiers in the First World War.

Using rare archive, historical testimonies, 100-year-old Indian war songs and 600 insightful letters written home by soldiers about their mind-altering experience in France, this film tells the story of these men of whom 10,000 were never to return to their motherland.

The screening was followed by an interactive session with director Vijay Singh and film scholar and critic M K Raghavendra, who received the National Award for Best Film Critic in 1997. Vijay gave an insight into the making of the film and everything involved in the process, right from the inception of the idea to the final product.

Cavery, one of the viewers, found it to be a very touching story that was showcased beautifully and evocatively. “The issue itself was very sad. The blacks were used as cannon fodder wherever possible and sent off. And the Indian government was also doing it until recently. In that sense, it was no different from the British who used the Indian soldiers as cannon fodder, considering them dispensable. The director put forth the story in the most wonderful way possible.”

“It was a lovely endeavour to showcase a story that has never been told before. Such screenings make you aware of a lot of issues that have never really been discussed or spoken about. It was a brilliant, emotional portrayal and I am glad that I was able to attend the screening. It was surely an evening spent meaningfully,” said Roshan, another spectator adding, “Also, as an Indian, I definitely felt proud watching the film!”


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